Terrorism is not logical, but so far neither is our response to it. As Ross Gittins points out in today’s Sydney Morning Herald,
there are plenty of things that present a greater threat to our
wellbeing than local terrorism – heart disease, cancer, road traffic
accidents, suicide and diabetes for starters – yet they don’t get
“nearly as much attention or money lavished on them.”

The
standard justification for anti-terrorist measures is the need to
protect us from terrorism, says Julian Burnside QC in a recent edition
of the Sydney PEN Quarterly, “but the response must be proportionate to the threat.”

A recent Roy Morgan poll
showed that Australians rated terrorism as the most important problem
facing Australian and the world today – ahead of industrial relations,
the economy, environmental issues, health issues and the oil crisis.

But what about the real statistics and facts on terrorism? According to
“risk estimates” or the “annual probability of dying (%)” the annual
likelihood of a Westerner dying from jihadist violence is 0.0001%. By
contrast, for an Australian to die of smoking-related causes, the
annual probability is 0.1%.”

Gittins
sums it up with this neat little stat: Americans are almost nine times
more likely to die falling off a ladder than in a terrorist attack. Now
that’s something to really fear.